Project Title: Carbon Sequestration and Climate Resiliency Via Super Wood

Location: College Park, MD

Award Amount: $20,000,000

InventWood Website

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Building materials such as steel and concrete account for approximately 11% of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making them a key contributor to climate change. Moreover, these materials are generally sourced through destructive mining processes that cause widespread health and safety impacts to indigenous and underprivileged communities. At the same time, commercially available sustainable alternatives have not been able to match the performance of steel and concrete, forcing the world to rely on these highly carbon-intensive materials.

Technical Approach

The project team, led by InventWood, will massively decarbonize buildings, and enable them to sequester carbon by commercializing a game-changing wood material, MettleWood, that is 60% stronger than construction grade steel but 80% lighter, significantly cheaper, and far more sustainable. Created via a revolutionary process discovered at the University of Maryland and developed under an ARPA-E OPEN 2018 award, MettleWood offers numerous possibilities for deployment in the built environment including replacement of structural beams, columns, connections, and cladding that will ultimately result in reductions of more than 37 gigatons of GHG emissions over 30 years.

The project focuses on three key objectives: 1) building a pilot production facility capable of producing one million square feet of MettleWood boards and veneer per year, 2) optimizing MettleWood’s physical properties and quantifying its carbon impact, and 3) completing all the necessary commercialization activities required of a successful product launch. By fulfilling these objectives, this project will have a profound impact in addressing one of the main causes of climate change.

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The SCALEUP project team is led by InventWood Chief Operating Officer Allan Bradshaw, a wood industry veteran of 32 years who has built and operated wood products facilities across North America, overseen capital deployment of over $1 billion into various product manufacturing categories, and developed and successfully brought new building products from lab to market. He has extensive experience in industry-scale wood processing and engineered wood manufacturing and will be directing the design, build, and operation of the pilot production facility. The InventWood team also includes experienced commercialization professionals for product development and management, an R&D team for continued technical advancement and intellectual property protection, and experienced project managers to ensure successful execution. InventWood is also supported by a complement of capable external collaborators.  University of Maryland Distinguished Professor Dr. Liangbing Hu, the inventor of MettleWood, will lead R&D on innovating additional product features. Co-PI Dr. Ming Hu at Notre Dame University will lead the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and development of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for MW’s first product. Dr. Ming Hu is a renowned scientist and well published author focused on the integration of architectural design with structural, materials, and building performance assessment. Finally, the project team includes external consulting and advisory support such as USDA Forest Products Laboratory and WAP sustainability.

ARPA-E Mission Alignment

The project goal of reducing GHG emission by replacing carbon-intensive steel and concrete in building materials by MettleWood aligns closely with ARPA-E’s mission to enhance the economic and energy security of the United States through the development of energy technologies that reduce energy-related emissions, including greenhouse gases. Also, the development of the advanced wood technology ensures U.S.’s leading position in energy research and aligns with ARPA-E’s second mission to ensure that the U.S. maintains a technological lead in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.